Brunwin-Hales, Greville Oxley

Captain / Royal Flying Corps

1889 - 1917

Greville Oxley Brunwin-Hales was born 21 November 1889, the eldest son of the Reverend Canon Greville Turner Brunwin-Hales (A 1872-1877), Rector of St. Mary's Colchester,  and his wife Eva, daughter of John Oxley Parker of Essex. His younger brother, Henry Tooke Brunwin-Hales (A 1906-1910), followed him to Winchester and was killed at the Battle of Loos in October 1915 (see individual entry). Five uncles were also Wykehamists.

Greville came to Winchester College in September 1903 from Revd Browne's school at Eastbourne. He was in A House, Chernocke, like his brother and father. He left Winchester in the summer of 1907 and went up to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took a diploma in Agriculture, and then went into business as a land-agent. He worked for a time on the estate of Mr. Christopher Turnor, at Stoke Rochford, near Grantham.

When the war came Greville joined the 8th Battalion Essex Regiment and was transferred later to the Royal Flying Corps where he served with 13 Squadron, flying BE2c aircraft on bombing and reconnaissance missions. One such was on the night of 10 October 1916 when he dropped 12 twenty pound bombs on a train at Vitry Station. He was promoted to Flight Commander in December 1916.

On 9 March 1917 he was flying a BE2c, armed with two Lewis guns, at 4000 feet on an aerial photography and reconnaissance mission over Bailleul. He and his observer had just observed for an artillery shoot against a German heavy battery when three German Albatross fighters appeared at 5000 feet and dived on the British plane. Brunwin-Hales wrote afterwards: 'I saw I could not engage the three machines at once, so I did a very steep spiral, my observer firing a double drum at intervals as best he could. The enemy machines followed us down to seven hundred feet over the trenches, firing the whole time. One machine dived beside us on our left and turned back as he crossed the lines. Two de Havilland scouts who had escorted us very well during the shoot were, at the moment of attack, escorting another BE'. 

Greville was killed on 24 March 1917, shot down by flak, at the beginning of the Battle of Arras while engaged on patrol-work, and was buried with his observer at Aubigny.

A letter was printed in The Wykehamist of June 1917:  'Dear Sir, I notice that in the latest Roll of Honour no mention is made of the prowess as a fighter of Captain G.O. Brunwin-Hales, RFC. I believe I am right in stating that he had brought down more enemy aeroplanes than any other British pilot, except Captain Ball. In any case, his victims numbered well over twenty – a total which speaks for itself. I think this information will probably be of interest to many Wykehamists. I am, yours, etc., L.E. Bath'. 

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